Today is the Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere – that date when the length of the daylight and nighttime are most nearly equal. (I would call this ‘the folk understanding’. If I wanted to get geekier, I could give you the astronomer’s definition, blathering about the ecliptic and the inclination of the rotational axis of the Earth, and whatnot – but what one can observe in the immediate world around them comes down to the lengths of the days and the nights.) From now until Midsummer’s Day in June, the days will keep growing longer, until we get to that longest day. Thereafter, to the Autumnal Equinox in September, the days will grow shorter until on that date they will balance again; then the nights will be longer than the days, up to Midwinter’s Day in late December, when we have that longest, darkest night. Thereafter, the cycle repeats, and once again the days will start getting longer.
This is the ‘astronomical first day of Spring’. If you look around my neighborhood closely, you can see various plants pushing their first green shoots out of the ground. Early birds like snowdrops and jonquils will actually send up flowers soon. (My SiL near Cleveland just told me her jonquils are already up!) And real ‘early birds’ will start migrating back to the area. (I have seen many robins around, but they cheat a bit – not all of them migrate. 😉 ) I will be seeing swarms of insects soon; all the riot of life that greets us each Spring will soon be upon us, with chirps and peeps and the yowling of tomcats ‘looking for their kitty’ in the warm dark.
The ancient, endless cycle repeats; the eternal promise of the awakening of the land from its cold winter slumber is fulfilled. Soon gardens and farms will be planted; soon will come spring lambs, foals, chicks, and all other manner of newborns.
I have been very lucky (some would say “blessed”); there has also been quite a bit of rebirth and renewal in my own life. I still have hard and uncertain times ahead of me, but I also know that I have times ahead of great joy, satisfaction in well-earned accomplishments, and the fulfillment of some long-dormant dreams. I don’t dread the former; I eagerly welcome the latter.
Happy Ostara, everyone!